September 29, 2015

Worshipping at the Alter of Elizabeth Gilbert

Literally and figuratively speaking, of course. As you can plainly see, she is on an alter and I do adore the woman. Never more than now.

Last Friday night, I got to finally hear one of my favorite writers speak at a book event sponsored by the Harvard Book Store. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I missed the first opportunity to see her in New England, scored tickets for the second but couldn't go. As they say, third times the charm. I finally got a ticket and I was able to attend.

My husband and I went into Boston early that day to meet up with Kate and enjoy some time with her before heading over to Cambridge. I wanted to make sure I was there very early.

And I was. Early that is. I was first in line (technically third, but only because the first couple split up and went to two different doors while David and I tried the side door first). We sat on the church steps for a couple of hours with a small group of people and I wondered if anyone else would show up. Doesn't everyone take a half day off to go see their favorite author?!

The crowd started to grow about an hour before it was slatted to start. Then people from all over started to get in line, which eventually turned the corner.

Of course I snagged the first pew. The two people in front of me went to the left and David and I sat on the right with me firmly planted in the isle seat. The church filled with, I'm estimating, 500 people.

Okay, you have the visual, now let me tell you how the evening went.

As I sat there, I started to fidget with the recording device on my iPad and my phone. (I wasn't taking any chances.) The evening was cool, so I brought a wrap that I couldn't seem to keep contained in any way. It was if it had a mind of its own. Maybe I was a little nervous. Okay, I was shaking with delight. I think I may have cried a bit.

Enter Ms. Gilbert. She wore jeans, a white top, the Harvard-required blazer, and boots. And she brought out a large leather bag, which I thought was odd. She was immediately engaging and her sense of humor was keenly sharpened. She truly is the type of person you would love to have as your best friend. (In fact, one woman got up to ask a question and lamented that she would indeed love to be Liz's best friendhers and Oprah's and Brene Brown's. Sorry. Liz wins hands down, lady.)

The bag, come to find out, contained a six-pack of beer... for four Canadian worshippers who drove down tweeting the entire way about how much they would love to have a beer with Liz. Trust me when I say that I can't do the story justice, so I won't. Just know it was endearing and very entertaining. And damn, I wish I had thought of it first.

She is on tour for her book, Big Magic. I devoured this book in one delicious meal of a reading session over the weekend. It's all about how to live a creative life. But it's much more than a self-help book (a much-needed niche, but I hate the term), it's a guide to finding out how to tap into your creativity with a practical, why-didn't-I think-of-that approach. Her stories, her advice, the cadence of her voice that you can hear as clearly as if she were in the room reading it straight to your heart, is uplifting. I went out and bought extra copies the very next day to give as gifts. Get it!

She read directly from her book for about 15 minutes. Then she opened the floor for a Q&A session. I can't remember how many people actually asked questions, but a hour or so later, I do remember her answering them as though she had scripted her thoughtful replies in advance, with much care and insight. I listened happily from my seat knowing I would rather watch and listen then get in line, although I had plenty of questions of my own.

She ended the evening with the poem, "Advice to Myself" by Louise Erdrich.

I could go on and on and on and on. But let me just say, the night was magical. Her words were healing. Her soul is electric. She is truly magical. Don't miss the opportunity to hear/see/be with this wonderful human being.

"The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I'M FAR MORE MOVED BY AUTHENTICITY. If your work is authentic enough,
believe meit will feel original."
Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic

Stay curious!

Need a little more encouragement? Listen to her TED talk (viewed more than 10 million times), and read Some Thoughts on Writing.


Joy said...

Oh, how I envy that you were there. She is also someone I admire greatly.
xo, Joy

Kimberly Merritt said...

Joy, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Come back and visit often!